Monday, January 30, 2023

Thurrock students should aspire for Oxbridge

Screenshot 2019-04-01 at 10.57.38

Thurrock students should aspire for Oxbridge
Katie Sewell

IN late 2018, Thurrock was named as one of the few areas of the country to have sent fewer than two state-school students to Oxbridge over the last three years.

The startling figures were revealed in analysis from the Sutton Trust, a social mobility charity, which also found that 42% of places to the elite universities are given to independently-educated students.

In 2016, Laura Wilsmore was the only student in her cohort to be accepted to Oxbridge from USP College (then Palmer’s College).
Having studied A Levels in English Literature, Mathematics and Drama and Theatre Studies, Laura was accepted to study English Language and Literature at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.

Laura praised the help and support she received from the staff at USP in helping with her application to the prestigious university.
“The Careers Service were helpful in Palmers, but what really guided me through was a teacher, Jane Ellis, who began to lead a small lunchtime group of potential Oxbridge applicants.

“She always encouraged us to try, without fear of failing, to at least give anything we come across a fierce go… I was very lucky to have such supportive teachers.”

Sandip Charlton, Director of Curriculum and Campus Operations at USP College Palmer’s Campus, told Your Thurrock: “The support for all our students applying to university sits within the curriculum areas and with our careers team.

“We have approximately fifty students who have applied to Russell Group universities this year. Obviously, there is a lot of additional support that goes into these applications, be that Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, King’s College, and when I say support that could be from teaching staff, course leaders, progress coaches, on wording of personal statements, interview techniques and admissions tests, such as the LNAT, which is the university entrance exam for law.

“We advise students applying to Oxbridge to think about getting the first draft of their personal statement prepared before the summer break.”
While Laura may only be one of very few recent success stories in the borough, she urges all Thurrock sixth form students considering an education at Oxbridge to go ahead and apply.

“I know what you may think Oxbridge and its students may be like, but I assure you, there is no Oxbridge ‘type’, she says. “Anyone from anywhere can and does study at Oxbridge. Behind all the pretty buildings and seemingly weird traditions are students who really do just love their subjects.

“What’s there to lose? You have multiple slots on your UCAS, so why not make one Oxbridge?… The only way you could show Oxbridge what a Thurrock student could do it by applying!”

There are a number of outreach initiatives helping to get state-school students into Oxbridge. Oxford runs its summer programme, UNIQ, where students get to spend a free week at one of the colleges. The Sutton Trust also runs a free summer school, where you have the choice to study for a week at one of 13 universities across the UK.

Prospective students and teachers can also get in touch with Hertford College, which is Oxford’s ‘link’ college for Essex, if you have any questions or queries about applying.


  1. My son had a interview at Cambridge and they openly sneered at our postcode saying that they had never seen one like that before.


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